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Forgive and Forget -- Stress, That Is

Compassion is good for your health, research suggests

SATURDAY, Jan. 15, 2005 (HealthDayNews) -- Not only is being able to forgive divine, it can be a blessing to your mental and physical health, says an article in the January issue of Harvard Women's Health Watch.

The article outlines five ways you may benefit by granting forgiveness to someone who may have wronged you:

  • Forgiveness reduces stress. Nursing a grudge can place the same strains -- tense muscles, elevated blood pressure, increased sweating -- on your body as a major stressful event.
  • Your heart will benefit if you're able to forgive. A study found a link between forgiving and improvements in heart rate and blood pressure.
  • Stronger relationships. A recent study found that women who were able to forgive their spouses and feel kindhearted toward them resolved conflicts more effectively.
  • Less pain. People with chronic back pain had less pain and anxiety when they practiced meditation focusing on converting anger to compassion, according to a small study.
  • More happiness. By forgiving another person, you make yourself -- not the person who may have hurt you -- responsible for your happiness. People who talk about forgiveness during psychotherapy experience greater improvements than people who don't discuss forgiveness, said one survey.

More information

The American Academy of Family Physicians has more about emotional health.

SOURCE: Harvard Health Publications, news release, Jan. 12, 2005
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